Another iteration in the Olight Nova series. This time it’s with an 18650 cell, an updated headband connection, and overall higher output. Olight sent one over for me to test and see how this one stacks up! Thanks to Olight and Going Gear for sending this light to me.
Two versions of this light exist: CW and NW. This review is of the NW version. All versions have a black body with black headstrap.
The Olight H2R retails for $89.95.
There’s little to say bad about the performance of this light. Output is incredible (claimed 2300 lumens on turbo). The light still requires Olight’s proprietary cell for charging, and there’s still live voltage on the tailcap charging. Also the new headstrap is great!
The Big Table
|Emitter:||Cree XHP50 (NW or CW)|
|Price in USD at publication time:||$89.95|
|Quiescent Current (A):||?|
|Charge Port Type:||Magnetic Proprietary|
|Power off Charge Port with no Cell?||?|
|Claimed Lumens (lm)||2300|
|Claimed Throw (m)||153|
|Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s)||335lux @ 5.03m = 8476cd|
|Throw (Calculated) (m)||184.1 (120.3% of claim)*|
|All my Olight reviews!|
- Standard measurement disclaimer: I am an amateur flashlight reviewer. I don’t have $10,000 or even $1,000 worth of testing equipment. I test output and such in PVC tubes!! Please consider claims within 10% of what I measure to be perfectly reasonable (accurate, even).
- Olight H2R Headlamp
- Headband with new magnetic/strap-over connector
- Olight brand 18650, 3000mAh
- USB charge base
- Sticky pads for headband connection
Package and Manual
Olight has backed away from their very-plastic packaged. I’m extremely grateful about that. I just don’t like plastic packages. They also don’t seem to be holding our hand quite as much with directions like “read this first.” That said, the package lends itself to opening in a very…. “showy” way, which is cool. The box has tons of information (maybe a full manual’s worth?) and a few photos too. Runtimes, features, etc. It also has a hang tag, so it’s display-ready, too.
You can see here what I mean by “showy” – the package only opens one way, and that way kind of is a glorious entry to viewing the H2R. I like it. The light is in a box, and the exterior is really just a sleeve.
The manual is not new – it has all the specs and features and UI information that you need to run the light. Even in a bunch of languages, too.
And here’s a pdf of the manual.
Build Quality and Disassembly
I don’t think the light could feel more solid. Olight’s built enough of these models to have the build quality very dialed in. Of particular note is the body of the light, which is not knurled as most lights are. There’s some “fins” (for lack of a better term) that surround the body. Normal fins on the head, and the tailcap has good reeding for grip. The tailcap is also long, which gives plenty of room to grip when unscrewing it.
The tailcap kindly reminds us “DO NOT SHORT CIRCUIT” because there is, in fact, live voltage across these terminals.
One very minor thing that I really don’t like about the H2R is that the head surface is not parallel to the tail surface. So when the light is “headstanding,” the body is about 10˚ off of vertical (as seen below). Now this isn’t a huge deal, sure. But wow is it annoying.
Ten whole degrees.
The threads are nicely square cut though, and also nicely lubed. The tailcap screws on very smoothly.
There’s a spring on the head end of the light, and on the tail end, the charging port connectors. More about this later (Power section).
Like the other Nova, this light is small. The body tube is thin and the head adds the bare minimum height. Could the light physically be smaller? Probably! but with the removal of onboard charging and the angled (the 10 degree, not the 90 degree. or maybe both) head.
The light is 110mm long and 25mm wide.
Compared to the BOSS, the H2R looks small. Compared to the H1 Nova, the H2R looks massive.
Oh the options! Primarily (and installed) is the clip. Not Olight’s main clip design (the ubiquitous reversible kind) but one that can be used up or down from only one position. I don’t like this kind of clip for up or down use, but for the main direction (in this case that’d be “head up”) then this clip is fantastic. Easy to use, and nice deep carry. The second option (which would be “head down”) could just be left off as far as I’m concerned. But the clip as a whole isn’t reversible on this light.
There’s also the headband, which has a new connection mechanism. First there’s the straps that grab the light like a claw and loop over. This is great, secure, and extremely convenient. At the back of this grabber is also rubber but there’s a magnet in there too which helps to hold the light.
Is this as good as the Armytek clip-in style? Well I can’t say as I don’t have one of those yet, but I can say this is worlds better than the previous iteration of the Olight variety.
There’s also an over-the-head strap for added security. I do not believe this third strap is optional (ie, it’s fixed permanently in the back). It is adjustable, too.
While there is no lanyard included, the clip has a hole at the “top” (head end) to accept a lanyard.
The H2R uses a single 18650, which is included in the package. (On first use you’ll need to remove the plastic ‘during-shipping’ protector.) This is a high drain cell. I have no complaints about the cell.
This light offers on-board charging if you’re using the proprietary Olight cell (which is included with the device), as all of the smaller lights in the rechargeable Nova and Baton series do. This isn’t a win, but the included cell isn’t a bad cell anyway. Other users have had concerns that the cell isn’t protected, and in a light which has live voltage at the tailcap, this could be a concern. Please come to your own conclusions about the safety of that – I hope Zak will test this further and prove if it’s safe. And let us know with a video if it’s not. 🙂 For now, I’ll add that Olight says this is a protected cell, so if something shorted the outside of the tailcap, the cell protection should trip anyway. (Reports are that this trips at 27A though, so this may still not be a win.)
The charger is USB on one end, with a flat cable connecting to this magnetic charger base. I like this connection because it’s very grabby – get the light near it and it’ll snap it right up properly. There’s a little indicator light on right where the cable connects to the base. Red means charging and green means charging is finished.
Here’s the runtime on turbo. Note that the light stays fairly steady at “Turbo” (>90% output) for almost a full minute. Then the temperature is maintained for the duration of the stepped down output at about 40 degrees C. The runtime matches (even slightly exceeds) Olights claim almost exactly.
Turbo runtime terminated at 2.98V. Charging test was begun from this point, and charging terminated at 4.25V. Note the steady charging at 0.8A, and also that the claimed-3000mAh cell actually measures 3000mAh like it should.
User Interface and Operation
There’s just one button, and it’s on the head. It’s a big flat soft button, which actuates very easily and has a nice “click.” It is, of course, an electronic switch.
Click for on or off. This will give you the previously used mode (except SOS; Turbo and High memorized for only 10 minutes – after that Medium is memorized.)
To select a mode, hold the switch (from on). Modes will cycle and just stop on the mode you want.
|Off||Click||On (Mode memory)*|
|On||Hold||Mode Cycle (L>M>H)**|
|Off||Long Hold (through moonlight)||Lockout|
|Lockout||Long Hold||Exit Lockout|
* SOS can not be memorized. Turbo and High memorized for 10 minutes, then Medium is memorized.
** Turbo and Moonlight are not cycled.
A pretty good UI, really. Lots of mode access from on and off. That Turbo and Moon aren’t in the normal cycle is good or bad depending your perspective but probably a polarizing UI decision. I personally like it. I like consistency with SOS, too (always a triple click away). The lockout action could be longer than 2 seconds though – that still seems easy to do accidentally.
|Mode||Mode Claimed Output (lm)||Claimed Runtime||Mode Measured Lux*||Measured Amps^||Calculated Output (lm)|
* This category basically meaningless since I don’t have a calibrated sphere. I’m still recording these values, and working on calibration. They are useful in the sense that they give actual mode spacing information. These values are recorded in the sphere, however.
** There’s a typo in the manual here; manual says 2.5 minutes. Actual is 2.5h.
^ Sorry I can’t figure out how to measure amps on this reverse-battery tailcap-charging light.
LED and Beam
There’s a single Cree XHP50 emitter in this light. That’s behind a dimpled TIR optic. This makes for a beam with a smooth runoff between hotspot and spill, and then not just a ton of spill in general. I quite like the beam. I’m sure that comes as no surprise, as I tend to like TIR’s anyway. The edges of the beam are a little soft for me though (as can be seen in the BLF-348 photo below). The ‘fade-to-nothing’ happens very quickly with this beam. Of course on turbo, the output overpowers that thought altogether.
These beamshots are always with the following settings: f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.
Tint Vs BLF-348
Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….
The Armytek Wizard Pro v3 headlamp has the same emitter and has an on-board charging option. It’s also cheaper, but the output is nowhere near as high on the Armytek light. It has an indicating side switch, and does not look to require proprietary cells for on-board charging. Generally those are good options.
What I like
- Build quality is excellent
- NW and CW options
- TIR optic
- Turbo output is ridiculous!
- Overall, a small light
What I don’t like
- Proprietary cell requirement
- NW is not all that great NW (a bit green)
- Live voltage on the end cap
- This light was provided by Olight (via Going Gear) for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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